Born there in 1960, Bernard has spent his entire life in the region -- and has worked in the wine industry since 1978 when he opened a small wine shop.
Discovering authenticity beyond Bordeaux's Marquee Estates
Seven years ago, I organized my first wine dinner. I'd fallen hard for wine two years prior but still didn't know much. Sure, I was reading all the right books and magazines. But the number of wines I had tasted was still quite small.
Two years have passed since a federal jury convicted Rudy Kurniawan, a prominent wine collector, of fraud for selling counterfeit wines. When the FBI raided Kurniawan's home in March 2013, they discovered thousands of fake wine labels and hundreds of bottles and corks. He's currently serving a 10-year prison sentence.
We've all dreamed of owning something that doesn't yet exist. I'm still waiting for the hover board I was promised in Back to the Future Part II.
Arnot-Roberts. Lioco. Matthiasson. Sandhi. These are just four of the producers that are counteracting the notion that ripeness, butter, and oak should define California Chardonnay.
"Born to Run," the album that catapulted Bruce Springsteen into the national spotlight, celebrated its 40th anniversary last week.
One recent Saturday morning, a friend sent me the wine list for Green Zebra, one of Chicago's top vegetarian restaurants, and asked for my advice. He was dining there that evening with friends who enjoyed wine but weren't obsessive about it. So he would be tasked with ordering for the table.
On January 12, 2007, one of the world's greatest violin players set up shop in the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station in Washington, D.C.
If any grape demands contemplation, it's Pinot Noir.
With summer approaching, the frequency of poolside barbeques, lazy picnics, and late nights on the patio is rising just as quickly as the mercury. This means lots more time outside, and consequently, a different cocktail menu.
"Flutes?" asked Sebastian Zutant, a leading sommelier, with obvious disdain. "We're adults; we use real wine glasses."
Finger Lakes' wine pioneer Hermann Wiemer released his first wine 35 years ago. While his wines helped the New York region gain critical acclaim, he never curried much favor with local winemakers.
In late March, two couples filed a class action lawsuit in California alleging that some of the nation's top-selling low-cost wines contain unsafe levels of arsenic. Just a glass or two of wine from producers like Cupcake, Charles Shaw, Franzia, Rex Goliath, and Korbel could result in dangerous arsenic toxicity, according to the suit.
One glass of Cabernet Sauvignon was described as "powerful and heavy." Another was described as "subtle and refined." The only difference? The music that was playing while people drank the wine.
Fifteen years ago, Stephen Tanzer, one of the world's leading wine critics, described the Cabernet Sauvignon from Ridge's 1991 harvest in Monte Bello Vineyard as "among the top dozen made in California during the last 20 years."
"Here you have this wonderful, miraculous thing, with hundreds of thousands of little tiny bubbles that are defeating gravity and exploding in this gentle fragrant foam on the lip of the glass. There is something beautiful -- in a kind of giddy way -- about just the sight of Champagne."
About 50 million cases of beer were purchased on Super Bowl Sunday. It's no wonder Anheuser-Busch, America's largest brewer, purchased three and a half minutes of ad time during the big game.
I was out past midnight one recent Wednesday, despite a meeting early the next morning. When I headed home, my route took me through Washington, D.C.'s popular 14th Street corridor, where a few bars and restaurants were still open.
2014 will likely go down as the year that powerful wine critics lost their grip on the marketplace.
One hundred years ago this week, France launched its first major offensive against Germany in World War I. The fight took place in the winegrowing region of Champagne, which the German army had invaded just weeks after hostilities broke out. Nearly 200,000 lives were lost in the three-month battle.
Alexander Niehenke began to appreciate wine ten years ago. But for the first four years, it was simply a beverage he enjoyed with dinner from time to time, especially when cooking at home.
Thanks to "The Lord of the Rings" -- and the tourism board's "100% Pure New Zealand" marketing campaign -- we envision stunning landscapes when we think of the island nation.
Wine industry executives are worried about the growing interest in craft beer and spirits from America's 20- and 30-somethings.
Wine demands to be shared.
John Trinidad, a wine industry attorney who lives on Main Street in Napa, was cleaning up from a party when his home started shaking.
"Nature is larger and bigger than all of us. It's crazy to think that man can dominate nature."
One hundred years ago, the Wine Society, a wine club in London, offered its members a Beaujolais from the appellation of Moulin à Vent for $29 per case. It offered cases of Burgundy from the appellations of Beaune and Pommard for around $36 each.
Outside the Bay Area, few wine enthusiasts realize that California's wine scene is incredibly welcoming.
"When I was in college, we drank beer. When my sons were in college, they drank draft beer. But when my granddaughter was in college, she'd get together with five girls, go out to a restaurant, and they'd each put $10 toward a $60 bottle of wine."
"Representing real people who make real wine has always been very important to me," explained Danny Fisher, the general manager and beverage director of Ripple, a wine-focused restaurant in Washington, D.C.
Finding Shane Finley was easy. Via email, we planned to meet for lunch at Bourbon Steak in Washington, D.C., a restaurant that's housed at the Four Seasons. While the steakhouse is known for having one of the best wine lists in the city, it's typically filled with tee-totaling lobbyists and power brokers during the day. So when I spotted a redheaded thirty-something with unkempt hair wearing jeans and an untucked flannel, I figured it was Shane.
If you ask a typical wine consumer to imagine a California red, they'll almost certainly think of Cabernet Sauvignon. If you ask that same consumer to imagine a white, they'll almost certainly think of Chardonnay.
"Although modern consumers are far more concerned about the origins of their food than they once were, keenly eyeing the source of that organic spinach, their concern goes out the window when it comes to wine."
"If a Pinot Noir is overwhelmed with fruit -- or, indeed, by any element, like oak, fruit extraction, fruit ripeness, or alcohol -- you're going to lessen the possibility that the wine can express essential place. And for me, Pinot Noir is all about essential place."
January is the perfect time to reflect on the previous year and make resolutions for the new one. For those of us who take wine seriously, it's smart to include wine in our New Year's resolutions.
Big love for big Champagne
Wine writers love explaining why Champagne and other sparkling wines deserve a spot at the dinner table all year long.
Each year, the wine world eagerly awaits Wine Spectator's "Top 100" list.
Ever tasted a boysenberry? What about cat pee?
Imagine if BMW's design chief admitted that Ford produces some of his favorite cars. Or if the CEO of Coca-Cola confessed that every now and then, he craves a Pepsi.
All wines are appropriate for all seasons. There's nothing wrong with enjoying a simple white or crisp rosé in the winter, and big reds work all year long.
If you play word association with a wine enthusiast and throw out the word "Oregon," chances are pretty high that the response will be "Pinot Noir." For good reason.
Intimidated by wine? You're not alone.
"Wine one is a white wine. It's clear, star-bright, and there's no evidence of gas or flocculation." Some movies rely on grand battles and epic fight scenes to keep audiences on the edge of their seats. "Somm," a new documentary from Jason Wise about three students aiming to join the Court of Master Sommeliers, attempts to captivate viewers with wine evaluation.
Now that Independence Day is behind us, the summer is in full swing. Barbeques, hikes, and lazy days at the pool abound. And most of us are itching to leave town -- eager to spend some time away from work, escaping from it all. Wine enthusiasts are fortunate in that we get to go somewhere virtually every night.